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Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a sexually transmitted infection that can affect your body. It is deemed the most common virus that can be passed through sex and skin-to-skin contact. There are more than 100 types of this virus that can develop asymptomatically or cause severe symptoms. Even though only a few of them are cancerous, many other types can cause unpleasant symptoms.
It is essential to know that people that have even a few sexual partners can be infected with HPV. But the main thing is that the virus can disappear over time without negative consequences. In this article, we will tell you everything you should know about human papillomavirus.
Types of HPV
All types of human papillomavirus are divided into two groups such as low-risk and high-risk HPV. Low-risk viruses (6, 11, etc.) and high-risk viruses (types 16, 18, 31, 33, 35, 58, etc.) cause different symptoms.
The first types of viruses appear in the form of genital warts which occur on the external genitalia and cervix. They don’t need treatment, because the body usually eliminates them during a certain period of time. But it is essential to understand that the risk of re-infection is high because the body doesn’t develop immunity to human papillomavirus.
High-risk types of human papillomavirus can lead to precancerous and cancerous changes in the cervix, vagina, and vulva. Up to 75 percent of cervical cancer is linked to the 16th and 18th types of HPV. You should know that these two types of human papillomavirus are deemed the most cancerous.
Symptoms of HPV
In most cases, human papillomavirus doesn’t cause any noticeable symptoms. As mentioned above, HPV can go away on its own within two years without causing any health issues. But if the virus stays in the body, it can cause many problems.
Manifestations of HPV usually appear on the body part that was infected. For example, if you have got HPV through vaginal sex, you may have genital warts. It is recommended to remove them if they interfere with your normal activity.
Human papillomavirus can be diagnosed during a Pap test. The recommended age for first testing for HPV is 30 years. Before this age, testing can be recommended if there are certain abnormalities in the cytological smear.
Unfortunately, HPV testing is not included in regular gynecological screening or testing. That’s why you need to undergo testing on your own. If you are infected with HPV, your Pap test will be abnormal.
Treatment for HPV
If you have an abnormal Pap test, you can visit an HPV doctor. The doctor will examine you and remove warts. It is essential to understand that there is no cure for HPV. There are a lot of so-called treatments that don’t provide any positive results.
But if you have not been infected with HPV, you can undergo a vaccination. The vaccine helps prevent infection. Vaccination is recommended for people under the age of 26 since it can be carried out if you have no HPV or before sexual activity.
Human papillomavirus can increase your risk of getting cancer. Men are more prone to anal and throat cancer while women can also get genital cancer in addition to the aforementioned types of cancer. Additionally, HPV can lead to the development of oral and upper respiratory lesions.
The bottom line
It is essential to understand that HPV can cause serious consequences. Even though condoms can protect you from human papillomavirus completely, they can still reduce your chances to get infected. If you haven’t been infected, it is better to undergo vaccination to prevent the infection and negative consequences of HPV.